Our first field trip was to the hillside Tuscan town of Cortona. I previously went this summer when it was bustling and blazing hot–I even recall getting a pretty cherry sunburn. But as we all know, the differences between June and January are more than just a few extra letters…
Forecast: Scattered Showers, 35 degrees F, Precipitation–100%
For the first few hours of our trip, we had a guide take us around some of the neatest Baroque and Renaissance themed churches around the town, interiors embellished with multi-colored marble, dramatic baroque paintings, gold plated triptychs. However only a few of us were willing enough to pull our limbs from our sides to take pictures. Even inside, the churches remained to be beautiful, dark, iceboxes. I felt a bit sorry for our guide. Once she mentioned the word “Ribollita”, a piping hot, thick, tuscan bread soup, it was much harder to think about the fine craftsmanship and legacy Cortona’s of Baroque Art.
“Well the tour is over, so you all now have free time to explor……”
Alas with those beautiful words rang the gong to start our soup mission…..
Most of the class broke off at the first trattoria they came upon.
“But they don’t have the soup!” It now began to pour.
However, four of us were not quitting! We will find it! and alas after many closed doors (our search was during siesta time) and no soup, we finally took refuge from the rain inside a little rustic place in an alleyway called Trattoria Toscana that still had its lights on. And they had Ribollita!
Ironically, I did not end up getting Ribollita–But I will get to that later….
The place was small. The only other people there was a group of old men sitting together mumbling Italian in really nice wool hats. Ahhh No matter what age, I find that italians are always wearing nice hats.
As we sat down our waiter gave us complimentary baked, crispy bread, later surprising us with our own balls of fresh goat cheese drizzled with a thicker, tangy balsamic vinegar. Divine.
So why didn’t I follow up with Ribollita?
Because they offered a unique off season special–peppered truffle linguini with freshly grated Truffles! I was not dissapointed….
Piping hot, the pasta and a wonderful thickness, (but not oiliness) to a smooth, peppery, but earthy truffle sauce. He then grated fresh truffles on the plate right at the table which fell onto the steaming dish like flakes of snow. There are no words to describe… For at least five minutes everyone at our table was quiet.
One day we shall return!
Later we decided to stop by somewhere and get a hot chocolate. Still siesta time, the town seemed empty, but nonetheless we were guided inside a small bar/coffee shop by an old man. We told him we already ate, but decided to stay for coffee and tea instead and was very excited for us to stay. Because of the weather, I think we were the only business they had all day! Our waiter spoke English well enough and we enjoyed his company as he explained certain Italian coffee drinks for us that we didn’t know of (Sometimes even giving us free samples!). The old man came by our table and gave us additional free pastries with our tea and hot chocolate! It was such an intimate italian experience I never would have had in June!
Even my tea bursted into a flower!